- Preview Activity (printer-friendly PDF)
- Afghanistan Overview in PowerPoint OR Afghanistan Overview Handout (printer-friendly PDF)
- Afghanistan: People, Places and Politics Study Guide (printer-friendly PDF)
- Online NewsHour's In-depth Coverage of Afghanistan and the War on Terror
- Access to Internet and other primary source materials for project research
- Project Guidelines (printer-friendly PDF)
NOTE: This lesson is broken up into three parts. Depending on the amount of time available for study, the lesson could be done in its entirety or Part 1 through 3 could be completed as stand-alone lessons.
Part 1: Background Information on Afghanistan
1. Introduce students to Afghanistan by directing them to the Preview Activity handout. Begin by asking students to complete column 1: What do I know about Afghanistan? Provide about 2 minutes for students to record their ideas.
2. Make a brief statement such as: "While Afghanistan is located far from the United States, it is a country that we hear about frequently in the news. Because of this, learning as much as we can about the country, its people, and the political issues connecting the United States and Afghanistan is important. Keeping that is mind, complete column 2: What would I like to learn about Afghanistan?" By providing a statement such as this, students will begin to see the importance of knowing about and understanding information related to Afghanistan and other foreign countries.
3. Explain to students that later in the lesson they will be coming back to the Preview Activity to discuss if what they knew was correct and to see if they were able to learn everything they wanted to know before the activity began.
4. Using the Afghanistan Overview Handout or the Afghanistan Overview PowerPoint, review the basic information provided so that students get an understanding of the geography, people and political issues related to Afghanistan. Have students complete the Afghanistan: People, Places and Politics Study Guide as you present the information.
5. Take time to discuss the answers to the study guide and encourage students to add details to their answers as you discuss each item.
Part 2: Learning In-depth Information About Afghanistan
Note: Depending on the specific focus of your lesson, there are several ways to proceed as you begin Part 2. Those with a short amount of time or a specific area of focus should select one or two of the subject areas listed and have students create projects based on that topic. For those who want a lesson with a broader view or who have a greater amount of time available, all topics could be selected.
- Afghanistan's Geography: How Does the Lay of the Land Keep the Country Poor?
- A Day in the Life: Describe a typical day for a person from one of Afghanistan's main ethnic groups. Choose from Uzbeks, Hazara, Aimaqs, Turkmen and Kirghiz, Pashtun, Tajik, Baluch and Nuristanis.
- The Role of Women in Afghanistan: look at what it is today and how it has changed over the past 10 years.
- The Government of Afghanistan: Its Structure and Important People
- The Economy of Afghanistan
- Illegal Drugs and Traffickers in Afghanistan
- Who am I? (research key figures such as Hamid Karzai, Mullah Mohammad Omar, Osama bin Laden and other political figures)
- The al-Qaida Connection: Terrorists in Afghanistan
- The Taliban: Its History, Rule and Future
- Other: Select your own topic with teacher approval.
6. Now that students have some basic knowledge about Afghanistan, explain to students that they will now have an opportunity to learn more about one/several important aspects of life in Afghanistan. From the list below, select the topics you would like students to use as the focus for their project. Arrange students into pairs and provide them with their topic assignment.
7. Distribute the Project Guidelines and review them with the class. Provide at least one class period for students to work with their partner to prepare their project. Information can be found at the Online NewsHour's In-depth Coverage of Afghanistan and the War on Terror. Other PBS Internet sources are listed on page two of the Project Guidelines. Please review Internet materials to be sure they are appropriate for your class and class level.
8. When all projects have been completed, provide class time for project presentations.
9. After all groups have made their presentations, direct students to get their Preview Activity sheets out. Provide students with approximately 5 minutes to check to see if they were correct in the information they recorded under the "What do I know about Afghanistan?" column and if they were able to find the answers related to the "What do I want to learn about Afghanistan?" column ideas.
Part 3: Afghanistan and the United States
10. To help students understand why what they learned about Afghanistan is important, facilitate a class discussion/debate OR assign students to complete essay questions, a theme or an essay related to what they have learned using questions such as:
- Discuss the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. Talk about why our government is concerned with the government and politics of Afghanistan when it is located so far from the United States.
- Discuss why keeping groups such as the Taliban out of power in countries like Afghanistan is important to the United States and other countries.
- Why are groups such as al-Qaida able to operate in a country like Afghanistan?
- Why are groups like al-Qaida a threat to the United States and to maintaining peace in the Middle East?
- Explain why having an understanding of the lifestyle of the average Afghan is important for U.S. citizens.
- Discuss reasons why the United States as well as many other countries and the United Nations are working so hard to provide assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
- What do you think would happen if the United States and other world powers abandoned their work in Afghanistan and left it up to the country and its leaders to take care of themselves? What are the potential consequences of taking this type of action?
- By studying Afghanistan, how have you gained a greater understanding of international relations and the role of the United States in assisting other countries and governments?
- Do you believe that the United States should continue to keep a military presence in Afghanistan? Why?
11. As a closing activity, ask students to compose a piece of creative writing (a poem, short story, letter, journal entry, skit, etc.) that reflects what they have learned about life in Afghanistan. Students should share their work in small groups.
1. As a class, discuss the role of Afghanistan in world politics and document the ongoing relationship of Afghanistan and other countries by having students collect newspaper and magazine articles about current events related to Afghanistan. Post these on a bulletin board and discuss weekly.
2. Invite people who are from or who have been to Afghanistan on military missions or as relief workers in to the classroom to answer student questions about life in Afghanistan. Students should prepare questions in advance to facilitate thorough discussion of information by the guest speaker.